With Mother’s Day and Memorial Day coming up this month, there is plenty of incentive to get those outdoor spaces ready for entertaining. From scheduling house painting to organizing your outdoor cooking tools, tick these 13 items off your to-do list so you can get to the good stuff: hanging out around the grill, kicking back on the porch and savoring the season. Let the countdown to summer begin!
Things to Check Off Your List in an Hour or Less
1. Check outdoor lighting. Make sure all outdoor lights are in working order, including porch lights, landscape lighting and motion-sensing security lights. Replace bulbs or schedule repairs as needed.
2. Give potted plants some TLC. If you have potted plants that stay indoors over winter, bring them out once the danger of frost has passed. To help your plants acclimatize, find a protected spot out of direct sun for the first several weeks outdoors.
3. Inspect kitchen and bath fixtures. Keeping an eye on these areas can help prevent costly water damage and repairs later on. Make a plan to regrout or recaulk around counters and tile as needed. If you come across any slow leaks, have these repaired as well.
4. Check safety devices. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month and replaced every 10 years — even if they still appear to be in working order. Test smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors; replace batteries as needed. Check the expiration date on your fire extinguisher and replace it if necessary.
Tackle These Tasks Over a Weekend
5. Get ready for grilling season. Giving your grill a deep cleaning before the start of the season will help it work more efficiently and prevent flare-ups. Clean the grates and interior with a grill brush and wash the exterior with warm, soapy water. Clean and organize your grilling tools (tongs, spatula, skewers) and pick up charcoal or propane if needed.
If you have a gas grill, be sure to check the fuel line for cracks and clean out any clogged burner holes.
6. Maintain and repair garden paths. Create neat edges, pull weeds, fill in gravel paths with fresh gravel and replace or reposition broken steppingstones.
7. Clean walls and touch up paint. Use a dusting attachment on your vacuum or an electrostatic duster to remove dust from walls, paying special attention to corners and baseboards. For a deeper clean, wipe down walls with warm, soapy water after dusting. Rinse with clean water, using a lint-free cloth. Touch up paint as needed on interior walls and trim.
8. Clean items on open shelves. Infrequently used items stored on open shelves can get pretty grimy over time. For items with a thin layer of dust, swipe with an electrostatic duster. If there is a thicker layer of dust, of if the items are in the kitchen (where cooking grease can be an issue), wash each piece in a tub of warm, soapy water. Rinse and allow everything to dry before replacing.
9. Refresh bedrooms.Rotate the mattresses on all beds and flip over if possible. Dust nightstands, lamps, headboards, blinds and decor. Swap heavy duvets for lighter-weight bedding for the warmer months.
10. Thoroughly clean the laundry room. Run the washing machine with a specialty tub cleaner (or with vinegar for a natural solution) on a hot water cycle. Wipe the rubber rim inside the washer and dryer doors and remove lint from the dryer vent with a vent brush or vacuum attachment. Clean countertops, mop floors and restock supplies.
Maintenance and Extras to Budget for This Month
11. Paint or stain your home’s exterior. Longer days and generally milder weather make May a good month to schedule house painting. If your home has a wood-shingled exterior, replace any damaged shingles and have a fresh coat of stain applied if needed.
12. Put together a picnic kit. This is the season for alfresco feasts. Be ready for impromptu picnics by sorting through your outdoor dining supplies at the start of the season and keeping a basket of essentials within easy reach.
Your kit doesn’t need to be extensive to get the job done: a cheese knife, small cutting board, bottle opener and blanket, plus a few outdoor dishes and cups, should see you through many a picnic. Note any supplies you’re missing and restock your basket as needed.
13. Add a relaxing porch feature. Make your porch an inviting place to relax and hang out with the addition of a porch swing, rocking chairs or a glider. Too much sun? Crisp white outdoor curtains can provide shade and look chic. Just add a tall glass of iced tea or lemonade, and you’ll be ready to savor the season in style.